AEI Says Goodbye

March 26th, 2010 at 9:45 am David Frum | 476 Comments |

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I have been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute since 2003. At lunch today, AEI President Arthur Brooks and I came to a termination of that relationship.

Below is the text of my letter of resignation.

Dear Arthur,

This will memorialize our conversation at lunch today. Effective immediately, my position as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute is terminated. I appreciate the consideration that delays my emptying of my office until after my return from travel next week. Premises will be vacated no later than April 9.

I have had many fruitful years at the American Enterprise Institute, and I do regret this abrupt and unexpected conclusion of our relationship.

Very truly yours,

David Frum

Follow David Frum on twitter: @davidfrum

Originally Posted on March 25th, 2:49pm.

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476 Comments so far ↓

  • Chekote

    Perhaps Mr. Frum can provide us a little background?

  • sinz54

    David:

    I’m really sorry that you’ve been excommunicated.

    History teaches us that heresy can be costly.

    Been there, done that, myself.

  • Chekote

    Sinz

    Yesterday you said you are registered as an independent. I share many of your frustrations with the Republican party but leaving is not the answer. You can only effect changes within not from outside. I suggest you get back involved in the party process and help make changes.

  • ottovbvs

    …..You got blackballed?……that happened to me once but some of my friends made such a fuss they had a revote and I got into the club…..it’s getting ugly out there David, but in the short term it will probably raise your visibility…..and you can always remember the immortal Groucho……I’d never join a club that had someone like me as a member!

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  • KevinK

    Sinz, he WAS TRYING to effect changes from within. This is the result.

  • theCardinal

    this is disappointing. AEI has always has always been less doctrinaire in it’s fellows than it has been portrayed. i am more sad for AEI and the movement than I am for Frum. He’ll be fine. I can only imagine the heat AEI has been taking.

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  • mlloyd

    Thus always to nonauthoritarians. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/18/politics/18bartlett.html

    While we’re on Latin phrases, illegitimi non carborundum, David.

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  • sinz54

    Chekote:

    Neither David nor I were fired from the GOP.
    The GOP can’t do that to the rank and file.

    But the AEI has decided not to have David Frum on their payroll.
    Frum isn’t the first person in this bad economy to be laid off.

  • mlloyd

    The modern conservative movement came to prominence with the election of Ronald Reagan. Soon thereafter, Democrats came to be seen as irrational, beholden to shibboleths of bygone eras, hopelessly out of it, intolerant of dissent or new ideas.

    Well, conservatives, you have met the enemy, and it is you.

  • rjcrawford33

    This only increases my esteem for Frum, who has the courage of his convictions. Indeed, it is a sign that AEI is afraid for its fundraising, making it hostage to the wingnuts, but then, it has been going downhill for years.

  • ottovbvs

    sinz54 // Mar 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    “But the AEI has decided not to have David Frum on their payroll.
    Frum isn’t the first person in this bad economy to be laid off.”

    ……More self parody Sinz?

  • Gray Area

    I, too, would appreciate some background information from Mr. Frum concerning this subject.

    Thank you.

  • Chekote

    Neither David nor I were fired from the GOP.
    The GOP can’t do that to the rank and file.

    I never said you were fired. I said you left. Look if people like us keep abandoning the the battle field to the Religious Right, then we can’t complain when they take over.

  • Chekote

    I must be the only happy to see Otto back. His posts bring a smile on my face everytime. Let’s give it up for Otto!

  • Travers

    Mazel tov David.

  • AlienNationRefugee

    As an economic conservative who voted Republican all of my life until recently I am often asked why I left the party. Of course the reply is always the same, “I didn’t leave the Party, the Party left me”.

  • ottovbvs

    Chekote // Mar 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    ……Thanks for the appreciation of my contributions…….I particularly liked your rejection of my claim that the GOP are principally the party of business and the richest 5% and always have been(what an absurd suggestion)……My pa and grandpa, however, were under no such illusions being firmly members of that group (as I am as as it happens) and always coughed up when the hat was passed …….I’m not sure whether you’re one of the kidder’s, like my antecedents, or one of the kidded, but I suspect the latter.

  • msmilack

    Telling the truth can carry a high price but telling the truth is what sets you apart from other conservatives, and when you say something of real substance, you touch nerves (obviously). Ultimately, this speaks very poorly of them and very well of you. I hope you take pride in knowing that you did the right thing and that doing the right thing is ultimately what matters most.

    Also, it sounds like the Institute now has a “purity” test. What does that remind us of?

    I am afraid that like other segments of the GOP, they are working very hard to transform a movement into a small club. I think it’s rather sad.

  • FormerConservative

    AlienNationRefugee: I feel the exact same way… for me it was when Bush & Rove pushed the wedge issue of DOMA (the gay marriage thing). Even though I am straight, the libertarian in me always wondered how Republicans can use the word “freedom” all the time but don’t believe gay people should have freedom.

    I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I believe in limited government, balanced budgets and freedom and equality for everyone. Unfortunately, the only place for me is the democratic party even though I know we will not get balanced budgets… but the republicans are not going to give me that either. I also cannot stand all the anger and the constant lies coming from republican politicians about ‘Government take over of healthcare’, among others.

  • TerryF98

    Join The Democrats, we are a broad party and you would fit right in with the Blue Dogs. :-)

  • Independent

    A thread or two ago, I wrote this: “I don’t think that’s the charge, MSheridan. The charge is that DavidF has sold his soul, rather cheaply, to the liberal MSM as the go-to guy needed whenever the have a story to Bash Bush, Palin, Beck, Limbaugh or others in the GOP or conservatives writ large.”

    Now, DavidF advises us that in an unexpected and abrupt move, after a luncheon with the head of AEI, AEI is showing DavidF the door.

    While rejection is always a bitter pill to swallow… I hope DavidF and the FrumBots here can learn from this experience.

    DavidF has used lots of tags with the conservative movement to support his conservative bona fides with the farLeft MSM… he did it the other day in an early morning interview with some partisan shill on MSNBC –one of the nameless faces over there, scrubbed clean that morning in a cell meeting, no doubt.

    The producer hadn’t even taken the time to make sure the talking head had the correct webzine name for DavidF’s FF. It took DavidF to correct the host after 1-2-3 mistakes and the lead in was something along the lines of “former Bush speech writer”, “AEI contributor”, “conservative pundit” et al.

    Then, DavidF proceeded to suggest that the GOP was soul-less, lost, had been defeated with abandon and ought to do some serious reflection on it’s proper role in a civil society if the GOP wanted to even be at the table of governance.

    It was a fiction that could have been delivered by WH hack and Dough Boi Robert Gibbs. It was amazing… I thought the performance could have passed some of the worst by Andie Sullivan, the liberal media’s former darling of choice, trotted out in his days of screaming “Torture! Dick Cheney’s a Torturer!!”

    Blessedly, Andie’s been returned to his anonymous post and no longer posing as a conservative imposter.

    I have been urging DavidF to find a path back from the abyss he’s been heading toward. I was hoping he would engage in a little reflection and some redemption like the kind he’s often counseled the GOP and GOP leaders to embrace.

    Can he? Sure, he ought to have enough guilt by now to choke a horse.

    Will he? I hope so –I use to like reading DavidF’s articles but of late, they’ve become exercises in Bush Bashing, Cheney Chiding, Palin Pounding, Limbaugh Lynching and Beck Bonzai Bonanza… but now it’s almost become a chore to keep the record honest.

    DavidF, the road to redemption begins with a single step. Set aside the self-serving voices here who would have you hazard all in the lust for ego enriching chit-chats with liberal MSM… put down the anger and find a path back to the community you use to call home. The tent is Big, DavidF –but you need to leave the new-found clowns outside.

  • msmilack

    Fabulous article, a must-read:

    Jacob Heilbrunn: The Banishment of David Frum: the Revolution Devours Its Children

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jacob-heilbrunn/the-banishment-of-david-f_b_513618.html

  • TerryF98

    “DavidF, the road to redemption begins with a single step.”

    Hallelujah,Hallelujah,Hallelujah. Come to the front, stand up and come to the front.

    Oh Don’t forget your Wallet.

  • TerryF98

    Knock,Knock. I think this thing is broken!

  • DFL

    As David Frum banished paleo-conservatives from mainstream conservatism in an infamous 2003 NATIONAL REVIEW diatribe, one might think that the trite saying “What is good for the goose is good for the gander” applies. But I would think that David Frum can do without the American Enterprise Institute as they apparently can do without him. Being a completely independent entity would be better for Mr. Frum in the long run.

  • brianwestchester

    David,

    I am a lifelong liberal/Democrat. I’ve been waiting for a long time to hear a voice of reason from the Republican Party. Honestly, while I think health care reform was/is absolutely essential, I would agree with you that this bill is far from perfect and I liked some of the ideas you put forth in the article you wrote a couple of days ago.

    I hope some in the Republican Party will hear you and start to govern again instead of constantly running for re-election. I agree with you that the point of politics is to do things, not just get elected.

  • Abe_Froman

    Screw em’ David. I thought you were right. Nobody is allowed to have their own opinion anymore. It’s party-line or firing-squad. Keep it up.

  • TerryF98

    I would wear this as a badge of honor.

    Any Republican entity with the words “think” in it is bound to be an oxymoron. Not sure they are very American either. The only word in the title that makes sense is “Tank”

    You obviously “Thinked” far too much and to criticize Fox is verboten.

    Hope you have Cobra or can wait till Obamacare kicks in.

  • jerseyboy

    Wow, that’s a very carefully crafted post and letter by Frum. I wonder what the story is.

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  • jerseyboy

    Wow, that’s a very carefully crafted post and letter by Frum, intended to obscure more than it reveals. I wonder what the story is.

  • TerryF98

    “From Bruce Bartlett, another ex-supply-side wingnut turned resident of Planet Earth: “Since [David Frum] is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI ’scholars’ on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.” David Frum probably wanted him to still keep this private, but whatever, thanks Bruce! [Andrew Sullivan]”

    Read more at Wonkette: http://www.wonkette.com/#ixzz0jDz4TffV

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  • lesherb

    Being a progressive, I do hope there is a worthy opposing party again sometime in the future. Until then, keep speaking out.

  • jetan

    Who could have seen this coming? Even the Communist Party doesn’t enforce dogma as relentlessly as does the current GOP echo chamber. I presume it was the “Waterloo” thing that tipped them over the edge

  • franco 2

    I guess Frum’s indefensible “Waterloo” column was his, um, Waterloo with AEI. Frum is no longer a “prominent conservative” as the lefty drive-by media touts.

    It really was over the top David. The idea that Republicans could have made a deal is ludicrous. And the idea that Republicans SHOULD have made a deal is even more ludicrous.

    People who know Frum personally Paul Gigot and Tinku V search vainly for motive, because they know Frum to be an educated, thoughtful man. They cannot understand his tortured logic, his blatant revisionism and his simplistic and naive analysis, so they naturally try to find some other reason, some common thread that would explain the cognitive dissonance of an intellectual pundit so far astray from political reality. They concluded, perhaps falsely, that Frum is in need of acceptance and craves validation from media elites.

    Frum does a feeble job defending himself, since he ignores their evisceration of his strange conclusions and chooses to defend himself from these “personal” attacks. He narrows the charge to “cocktail parties” and mocks the idea. He denies they exist, which is false, but even that isn’t the point. He doesn’t take these characterizations for how they are really meant – which is metaphor. The cocktail party is just a metaphor David. Meet the Press, MSNBC ABC This Week think of them as cocktail parties David. The underlying charges that Frum abhors talk radio, populism and hard battle lines is undeniable, and Frum MUST have a rationale for this incessant advocacy.

    Does Frum REALLY believe he can single-handedly convince everyone to drop sarcasm, snide remarks, personal attacks, name-calling, smug asides, and underhanded rhetorical tricks in our political discourse by the Republican Party’s unilateral disarmament? Is he REALLY that naive? No one can believe that. Is that too difficult for Frum to understand? Does Frum really think that Republicans can govern as elites and ignore the 20 million Rush Limbaugh listeners , forsake them for the 500,000 (at best) Rachel Maddow, Keith Obermann audiences blessing? The best that can be achieved from these folks is some polite regard while they shake their heads wondering how a smart guy like Frum can remain a Republican.

    Advocating measured discourse, Frum is eaten alive by Rachel Maddow who first teis him in retorical knots and has him blathering and nodding like a nebbish caught masturbating in the bathroom by his mother. maddow has an agenda, Frum doesn’t. Game over. Maddow will not admit that HER side does it too, as Frum expects. Maddow will not admit to equivalence or any modicum of guilt. It is a pure ambush. Frum has shown “his” and Maddow points and laughs, and declines to show “hers”. It is actually sad that Frum believes this shows him as a fighter.

    Then there are the great “independents” and “moderates” Frum believes would only vote Republican if they dropped all the social and culture wars, distanced themselves from conservatives, and compromised with hyperpartisan Democrats. This vast swath of independents would tip the balance of power in Washington to civil discourse and Utopian harmony by electing reasonable Republicans to parley with committed leftist Democrats.

    Evidence of Frum’s failed strategy abounds. Frum has the audacity to lament Arlen Specter’s betrayal as something conservatives are responsible for rather than finally admitting that the man has no scruples and acted more in opposition to Republican strategy and goals and was a net liability to the party. As well Frum in his beltway coccoon semms blind to the huge shifts happening politically whereby conservative were on the verge of abandoning the GOP because of too much coddling of the likes of Specter too much big tent – no principles if you call yourself a Republican-that-means-there-are-more-of- us- and- we- win mentality. When the populace asks “Who wins exactly? ” Frum says” Don’t worry your pretty little heads you little people, we know better how to run things ” while they compromise with leftists whistling merrily along in power.

    The naked power plays by the Democratic Party, the utter disregard for polity, civility and good governance reveals to any cognizant observer that seeking compromise or in any way joining or lending credence to their cause is suicidal. Frum seems oblivious.

    We just want to know why, David. Why do you insist on a double standard and unilateral disarmament and keep running to people who have proven time and again that they will play Lucy and pull the football away from Charlie Brown.

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  • franco 2

    The progressives here make my point in spades!

    lesherb // Mar 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    “Being a progressive, I do hope there is a worthy opposing party again sometime in the future. Until then, keep speaking out.”

    They want a “worthy” opponent not a contemptible one. They won’t change their vote or relax their agenda. These people are so full of themselves, so anti Democratic, so elitist they can’t fathom opposition to their core values and beliefs.

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  • advocatusdiaboli

    Nothing short of a full admission by the AEI that you are absolutely right shows how out of touch, fanatical to a fault, and unable to reason the AEI is as does their sour grapes dismissal of you. My already high regard for you Mr Frum has double on this news. Bravo for your principled stand.

  • BringBackRationalDiscourse

    David, thank you for the courage to tell the truth. I know there are other people out there who are looking for intelligent discussions of different views of governance.

    Be careful of mob mentality: all of the ranting, fuming, and name calling may feel good in the moment but there will be a day when the ‘silent majority’ wakes up and is ashamed of all of this.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some moderate thought leaders to show the way? Keep it up, wherever you land.
    - a registered Independent

  • Independent

    franco 2 points out: “The progressives here make my point in spades!”

    I’ve been making the point for weeks that the farLeft FrumBots here who quietly whisper sweet nothings but encrouagement into either ear on DavidF’s handsome face are part of the reason why DavidF has been baited into stronger sound-bites on more liberal MSM shows than ScottieMcClellan can book in a month of soul-selling appearances.

    What next? Will DavidF start doing fundraiser for Democrat candidates endorsed by Geo Soros? Maybe a guest hosting spot on Keith Olbermann’s LeftWingNazi Hour?

    It appears that AEI made the decision it should have made months ago. They are a highly respected, middle of the road, strongly supported think tank that has always told the truth to power –they aren’t the 4Hire tanks like Center for Am Progress or Democracy (Democrats) Allliance or America Coming Together –Geo the red Soros’s pet group.

    It’s rather telling that the squawking on the net has mostly been from farLeft media organs and the DNC operatives… not all, but certainly most.

    In way, reinforcing that AEI should have cut DavidF loose a while ago –his audience was increasing farLeft of center.

    The moderate to conservative media will probably say: “What took AEI so long –we wrote him off months ago?”

    Alas, the shame is that DavidF’s redemption is in jeopardy because I’m guessing the Obami have some one at 1600 Penn calling the David for a little pep talk… and some thanks.

    The left needs DavidF far more than the moderates or conservatives or GOP. I’d welcome him back into the Big Tent but he’d need to leave the farLeft clowns he’s been with lately outside.

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  • Derek

    I think we need another column on how poor Ann Coulter’s right to free speech was trampled in Canada because conservatives are so concerned about it.